Marketing Madness - The Big Dance with your prospects

Every spring Americans follow college basketball.  Millions of people, both die-hard fans and those who only tune in just for the tournament will select a field of 64 teams, follow the games and watch the brackets whittle down to the Final Four.

Think of email marketing to your list like your own set of brackets.  Here's five ways your email marketing should mirror the way you look at your basketball brackets.

1) Personalization makes it more engaging.

When you build out your brackets, it's likely you choose teams you connect with. Perhaps you are an alumni or have a friend who attends a certain school. Maybe you connect with a state or city. Some people even select based on a mascot or color. The bottom line is we are more likely to root for and select teams we connect with based on something personal to that school.

This is true for how your prospects look at your emails. If you personalize the experience they are more likely to select your message to open and read in their inbox. Whether you add a first name, target messages geographically or in cater the email to a product interest...connecting with something your contacts care about makes your message more likely to be read.

2)  Use performance to segment your leads. 

Basketball teams are numbered for seeds 1-16.  The top teams are not by any means guaranteed to win, but history has shown they are more likely to win. No number 16 seed team in the NCAA tournament has ever beat a number 1 team.

What do you know about your email contacts? Do they open every email? Perhaps they open 1 in 4?  Do they shop with you all year, or just during the holidays?  Understand your leads and use that intelligence to segment them into groups and email them according to their historical performance. Your number one seeds should hear from you more often than a sixteen.

3) Everyone plays.  

The brackets are built to give every team an opportunity to play.  Your email communications should be actively emailing your whole list. So, let's continue on the thought of emailing some contacts less often than others. If someone only shopped with you at Christmas, you should segment them and not email them every day. But you should not wait until next Christmas to email them. Everyone gets a chance to play and if you aren't reaching out to a name at least once a month, you aren't giving that lead a chance to covert. If you don't keep in touch, you're likely to end in their spam box the next time you do send a message.  Keep everyone in the game, unless they are eliminated.

4) Eliminations will happen.

Sports tournaments cut down the field of competitors fairly quickly.  Teams drop out and return home. 

Contacts need to come off your email list some times. When you have a customer whose email address is no longer valid, prune the list. This keeps your list healthy. Do it conservatively. Remove email addresses that are no longer valid and those who no longer relate to your products, but keep the customer's information on file somewhere to reach out to them through other means.

5) Celebrate together.

Fans and teams cheer for every point and celebrate every victory together.

Let your contacts who are engaging with your emails know you care. Send a special offer every once in a while.  Share a video or tip you know they will appreciate. Let your fans know you are paying attention to what they like and show them you value them as a customer.

Take a good look at your bracket of names. Make sure you're paying attention to how you communicate with your customers and prospects not just in spring, but year round. Good practices to engage with your list will help you work the full field, converting the best to your elite customers.